* Posts by Tom 13

7611 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

While the BBC drools over Twitter, look what UK's up to: Hospital superbug breakthrough

Tom 13

Re: More science less Twitter

If it really is a good medical breakthrough, in the long run we'll all make more money off it that we will off Twitter. All the more shame Andrew didn't flip the article.

Although I suppose there is the chance we would have been hauled off in cuffs for insider trading allegations...

Tom 13

Re: Who is

From the commentary I take we should simply count ourselves fortunate not to know and stay away from Pandora's box.

Google 'fesses up: Yup, we're KILLING OFF IE9 support for Gmail, Apps

Tom 13

Re: Google want to turn a browser into an OS for some

Same reason Netscape wanted to do it 20 years ago:

If you can kill the dependency on the OS and move it to a dependency on the Browser, the OS becomes the commodity and the browser becomes the monopoly.

Netscape's mistake was they didn't have a revenue stream to match MS's OS stream. Google does and then some.

I've never been sure about the saying that power corrupts. I think it may be sufficient that power attracts the corrupt. But the way Google is going I may yet be convinced power does in fact corrupt.

Tom 13

Re: forces people away from non-standards-compliant

While IE9 isn't strictly standards compliant the kludge that moves it out of that realm hasn't been removed from 11 and isn't likely to be removed from any future version either. And to the extent that IE10 is standards compliant, so is IE9.

Early in my career I worked with some very smart people who were developing a future looking appliance programming language. They foresaw the need to implement it and its related operating system in such a way that something 20 years old would still work and could still talk to something brand new. The new device would of course have to recognize the limitations of the old device, but parsing the communications was straight forward. There is no reason the same should not be true of the internet and browsers.

Tom 13

@ bigtimehustler

Meh. Probably wouldn't sign up on his site with my GMail account anyway. That's for friends and reputable businesses. He'd probably wind up with my Yahoo account. That's the one I use when I'm expecting spam.

GIMP flees SourceForge over dodgy ads and installer

Tom 13

Re: Sourceforge

Ditto CNet's Download thingie. They use to be one of my goto sites. Not anymore.

Tom 13


Although I concur and gave you an upvote, there is a fundamental problem that still needs to be resolved. It came up in a different context just a few days ago:

How do you pay for the stuff we put on the web?

Right now it's mostly done by ads, which is where Google's real monopoly power and danger to us lies. If you require even small payment, users run away. Hell we even reference it with the derogatory term "paywall."

I've gotten to the point where I'm nervous on almost any download site these days. I find that even being careful I have trouble differentiating real links from ads. Click on a really bad link and you might not have to do anything else to compromise a Windows PC.

I liked the good old days when banner ads were considered annoying but paid for stuff. I even clicked few on a few links on occasion to make sure a good site earned a couple extra pennies.

Oooh! My NAUGHTY SKIRT keeps riding up! Hello, INTERNET EXPLORER

Tom 13

Re: a lot of anime fans have a weird hatred of calling anime cartoons

I've always assumed that is mostly a 'Merkin thing.

"Cartoons" on this side of the pond has usually meant Hanna-Barbera type morning kiddie shows. They want "Anime" to reflect that the artwork is more detailed (generally) and that the story lines aren't necessarily for kids. In fact "child friendly" is the last label you'd want to put on a fair amount of it.

I see their point but like you think they overdue it a bit.

That time when an NSA bloke's son borked the ENTIRE INTERNET...

Tom 13

Re: The bad news was the loss of innocence.

True, but at least he didn't have malicious intent. What would have happened if the first incident of that magnitude had?

Another DEVASTATING Chelyabinsk METEOR STRIKE: '7x as likely' as thought

Tom 13

Re: More money, please

Although I think the meteor problem is real, the same thought crossed my mind: to what extent are they PRing the number more because they are looking for money from scare tactics than because of the actual measurable threat? Maybe my prejudices do make me more likely to believe the meteor threat and they are trying to play me.

OK, maths wonks: PRIME TIME has arrived

Tom 13

Re: I hate to break it to you...

I was going to say they should have added the disclaimer that it only applies to 'Merkins not Brits, but you beat me to it.

Microsoft founder Paul Allen's money man wants Redmond to break up

Tom 13

@ Bladeforce

No, I expect Bing, Xbox, and possibly even RT to zombie on. MS almost never lets an idea die. They put it on the shelf for a few years, pull it back off, blow the dust off, hand to a new team of developer to shine up a bit, and then release with a new jazzier name. In fact, I think the only two things they've really let die are Bob and Encarta.

Tom 13

Re: assumed direct hardware I/O was permitted?

And right there is the business need to re-write the code to comply with modern security standards. If you allow the 16-bit app direct access you've opened up a hole a mile wide that hackers will sail an oil tanker through.

No it's not pretty, but buck up and pay the money to secure the system. The university telescope you can probably make a case for a waiver on. It doesn't need to be networked. But it will need a decent security protocol as well given Stuxnet.

Tom 13

Re: legacy 16-bit software

If that legacy 16-bit software can't run on a standalone legacy box that doesn't need servicing OR

a VM that's firewalled and isolated as hell from the rest of the system it shouldn't be anywhere NEAR a modern OS.

Yes I'm and old DOS hand from about version 3.0. Yes in some ways it was a lot easier. It is also completely insecure.

And insisting that our 64-bit OS systems handle it on a native level without an emulator in between is insane. There's a good reason we no longer give any random application direct access to the hardware. In fact, it's plural not singular.

Tom 13

@Ken Luskin

Please put down the Kool-Aid. You sound almost as bad as the Fanbois.

Open Office/Office Libre killed the Office Synergy. Sure I use Office at work, never at home. I don't want to be stuck on the upgrade treadmill for an occasional use product. In fact, were it not for the Windows Monopoly there would be no Office Monopoly for MS today. WordPerfect was a far superior product, even when Office was the only working GUI for Windows 95A. Of course back in those days a full copy of WordPerfect set me back $495. Upgrades were more affordable of course. MS cut their money supply by selling competitive upgrade copies for $99. WordPerfect tried the same thing, but without the cash flow from a monopoly OS, it didn't help. Although I did know people who owned copies of both during that time because once you had one the other was only $100 more. One enterprising co-worker even managed to bag both of them for only $200.

We're moving toward platform agnosticism not platform dependencies. Best of breed not monopoly lock-in.

I'm not sure if they are better off as one company or better off split apart. Maybe they can get synergies. Maybe forcing everything into the same mold is what is holding them back. I'm sure as hell in the camp that thinks that's how they screwed up Windows 8. But I'm willing to concede they might be able to maintain a root code base that is similar for devices. Linux certainly does even when it gets specialized for an appliance as dedicated as a car gps.

Indestructible, badass rootkit BadBIOS: Is this tech world's Loch Ness Monster? VOTE NOW

Tom 13

Re: be the most believable part of this.

I think almost any piece of the description is believable. It's putting them all together in a single BIOS memory piece of malware that makes it difficult to believe. Of the whole description I think the speaker and microphone transfer bit is the least believable, but mainly because I work mostly on desktops that don't have mics. although if your primary device is a laptop or tablet, then you'd have both devices. Might be some hyperbole about frequency. You could opt for an audible at a time people aren't likely to be near the systems. Maybe you could work out a set of flags that indicate people aren't around instead of just a simple time of day check.

SR-71 Blackbird follow-up: A new TERRIFYING Mach 6 spy-drone bomber

Tom 13

Re: There, fixed it for you.

The only difference between the RINOs running the Republican party and the Dems is the magnitude of the borrowing in which they want to engage. Part of the reason they got slaughtered after 6 years of Bush was Tom Delay remarking we'd already cut everything there was to cut.

Tom 13

@ Vociferous

Americans understand it. It's the Congresscritters that don't.

Unfortunately, we've also expand the percentage of takers beyond the number of givers so from here it looks like it doesn't get fixed until we repeat the first year Mass. Bay Colony experiment all over. Except this time we're interlocked with the whole world so it won't just be an isolated colony at risk. But hey, we're just following your European lead.

Tom 13

Re: As an intellectual and technological excercise...

I don't think electricity was strongly associated with the defense and was instead civilian. And while there are certain areas of chemical or metallurgical research strongly associated with defense, I suspect equal amounts with little defense input. Certainly anything in the area of fertilizers is primarily civilian.

That being said, the one area where technological advancement is strongly correlated with defense, and even more precisely, hot wars is surgical breakthroughs and artificial limb replacement.

If you put all the eggs in either basket something will be stymied. The question is where to draw the line. I'd probably make it 80:20. Civies get 80 and government gets 20. I think private is more efficient but tends toward evolutionary rather than revolutionary. So even though short term gains are easily quantified, getting the big picture is rather more difficult. Government is better at the revolutionary stuff, but at the cost of efficiency. You fund a lot of dud ideas to get that one really good one.

How the W3C met its Waterloo at the Do Not Track vote showdown

Tom 13

Re: Any server / browser?

Young ins. You can always spot them in a crowd mouthing off about things they know nothing about.

These days from home there is exactly one website I visit that doesn't work properly with a bog standard browser. Not sure why and I haven't complained about it because their reporting hours don't work so well for me. And it is easy enough for me to open IE on the rare occasion I do need to use the single function that doesn't work properly.

Yes work is a different story. Too damn much legacy code on the agency intranet that requires IE8. But that's the intranet, not the internet.

The internet pretty much just works. Oh you might need to install Flash, or Java or Adobe Air for a website here or there to work, but you can install it in the browser of your choosing, not the one the site designer chose. Not like when the internet was starting out and every website you visited was tagged somewhere on the home page with either "best viewed in IE [ version]" or "best viewed in Netscape [version]". Everyone was lined up on one side or the other in The Great Browser War. While it was true progress was faster because that was how the war was fought, it was also damned annoying.

Tom 13

Re: Is there actually any evidence...

Mostly no. Mostly I just tolerate it.

But some small percentage of the time, say 0.01% yes and ad catches my eye. If it catches my eye, there is another 0.01% I'll click on it to see what they are selling. And from that I believe there is another 0.01% chance I'll see something I want that I might otherwise have missed. But it is certainly reasonable to ask if given those odds, this is really the model on which we should build the internet.

Tom 13

Re: I wouldn't have started blocking

I don't block, but concur that advertisers need to learn some manners. The animations don't usually annoy me too much (although I'd like to shoot the people who use the ones that flash so badly you'd think they'd be sued for causing epileptic fits), but the delayed pop-ups, pop-unders (my FF is set to save my last session so if I don't see them and close them first they mess it up), expanding windows, and most especially the timer ad messages irritate the hell out of me.

Apple will FAIL in corporate land 'because IT managers hate iPads'

Tom 13

Re: Brenkel might not be able to capitalize on his observation for HP,

Oh I work in IT. Just low man on the totem pole dealing with all the crap rolling downhill from the decision makers.

Against policy to backup to the iCloud because it doesn't meet security requirements.

Against policy to install iTunes.

For some reason it's also policy to not assign each user an Apple ID. I guess it's somehow related to accounting.

Now my ultimate employer has deemed that about one person in 100 can have an iTunes account, buy apps and gift them, at which point we jump through a different set of hoops to install it. They want one person buying and assigning the stuff, Apple wants each phone user to be the purchaser.

Couple that with Apple's disdain for dealing with the standard large company or government bill mechanisms and you have a disaster in the making. It really is a PITA from a corporate governance and support standpoint.

And on the PIN front, yeah I get The Great, All-Knowing, and Wonderful Steve Jobs deemed it problematic, but it's a basic requirement for Enterprise level IT asset management. As things stand now when a user forgets his PIN my only option is to wipe the phone and reprovision it. Which means putting in the wrong password 10 times including the extended wait periods near the end that are probably intended to prevent pranking. Not a bad idea, but not so good when enforced software policies force people to change their PIN every 30/60/90 days and they forget their PIN.

Tom 13

Brenkel might not be able to capitalize on his observation for HP,

but that doesn't mean his observation is wrong. Three years ago we were using Blackberries for smart phones. Now were using iPhones. I can't reset a phone PIN on an iPhone if the user forgets it. I could on a BB. I can't backup an iPhone before I perform a factory reset or upgrade. I could on a BB. Yes, it is encrypted. Yes we can force it to require a PIN. No we don't have scanning software to compare a know baseline against the current phone when a user comes back from travel, even in a third party. We did for BB, even if it was a bit of a PITA. So the new policy is that when the phone/tablet comes back, it gets reset.

And yes, it is against policy to have iTunes installed on your desktop. So getting and installing Apps is a royal PITA even with Apple's improve deployment options.

Bottom line: Apple has never been aimed at big corp/government and still isn't ready for prime time in those environments. If monkeyboy (or anybody else) really wanted to eat Apple's phone market, this is the weakness he'd target. It is how Gates won the desktop war all those years ago.

Adobe users' purloined passwords were pathetic

Tom 13

Re: I don't get it...

I think you should have saved that facepalm for this little gem (from the notes on the top 100 list):

generosity of users who flat-out gave us their password in their password hint

Obviously not an account they care about.

Can't stand the heat? Harden up if you want COLD, DELICIOUS BEER

Tom 13

Re: Explanation of the Mpemba effect

Nope, they covered that when the second year university students did the experiment. They put a thermal insulator between the beakers and the bottom of the freezer so the hot beaker would still be isolated from the metallic bottom of the freezer. Effect was the same.

As for me, I'm believing the second year uni students over jake.

Japanese boffins unveil INVINCIBLE robot rock, paper, scissors 'bot

Tom 13

Re: Cheating

Because after all, every computer knows "The only winning move is not to play the game."

Dying HealthCare.gov bagged JUST SIX registrations on first day

Tom 13

Re: So they tested the system before launch

No. The Big 0's preparation work for those is 2 orders of magnitude larger than the testing for this site. As in, in a commercial setting this wouldn't have even passed the initial design review phase. You had at least three government agencies designing their "portion" of the site without reference to the designs from the other participating agencies.

Tom 13

Re: Mythical man month...

'Designed" you say? Go flog yourself 40 times! That's not how government works. Government just speaks it and it happens.

Tom 13

Re: states running their own exchanges

That's a misleading statement. The early information even from the State exchanges is that they aren't signing up 0bamacare people, mostly they are signing up Medicare/Medicaid recipients. The typical response, assuming you've slogged through the signup process is 'Fuck it, I'll pay the fine instead. If I run into trouble then I'll get insurance because now they can't turn me down for a pre-existing condition.'

Tom 13

Re: It's quite impressive to a foreigner that you consider 1200$/mo PLUS

That's a bargain actually. We pay for the R&D your governments leach from to maintain the illusion you are paying less for your insurance. Also note he's self-employed and talking about a Health Savings Account for a whole family. Typical family insurance pre-0bamacare in the US ran between $475 and $675/month for the worker. And the worker paid anywhere from 20-40% of the cost with the employer picking up the rest. Cheap when you work out that we were actually paying healthcare for ourselves, the uninsured, and picking up 80% or the R&D costs for the rest of the world. And that doesn't include straight up charity donations which don't figure into the official numbers.

iPad Air not very hot: Apple fanbois SHUN London fondleslab launch

Tom 13

Re: Err, I was just in there...

OK, the queue was massive. How many clerks did they have running the registers?

Tom 13

Re: most people will roll through the upgrade cycle

except it's now every 3 to 5/7/9 years depending on tolerance levels.

In fact it's scary to think that I'm still not thinking about replacing my hand-built desktop. I don't remember exactly what the date was on which I built it, but Vista had just been released and I mistakenly bought the 64-bit version (so I could address all the memory I was putting into the system) figuring I'd be building myself a gaming system that would last a few years. Turned out the gamers were still focused on 32-bit XP architecture. Even LOTR wouldn't load on my 64-bit system. Fortunately I dual installed 32-bit XP so it wasn't a total loss. But the Windows 7 partition is still serviceable for my uses. It turns out I'm not a big fan of MMOs after all, and they're pretty much the only call for a gaming rig.

Tom 13

Re: why the fruity firm can't be bothered doing anything new anymore.

It's not just Apple, it's most of the tech industry. But a few moments of thought show the venom is misplaced.

The root cause has been identified by many labels and sayings. Here are a few:

- Diminishing returns

- Law of 80/20

- Sturgeon's observation

Thirty years ago when Apple and MS were starting out and Altair was not yet a memory it was virgin territory with lots of opportunities for new concepts, mistakes and quick hacks that worked but weren't optimized. Now the broken concepts have mostly been disposed of, the opportunities most evaluated, and the math geeks have seriously optimized those quick hacks. With each new iteration of technology we've cleared the low hanging 80% that could be fixed. The 0.024759% on which we are working are just exponentially harder than those first iterations back in the good old days. In fact when you really think about it, making any improvement is really pretty amazing.

Tom 13

Re: Why does 64 bit mean faster? It doesn't.

If it's a full 64-bit architecture instead of a 64-bit processor on a 32-bit bus it does necessarily mean faster because you load 64-bits into the processor with one read cycle instead of 2. That's why 64-bit didn't make a hell of a lot of sense when Intel and MS released them for XP on 32-bit motherboards.

I'll agree it doesn't necessarily affect the perceived user speed because we long ago passed the point where the desktop CPU is idling at 80-90% most of the time for a typical user. But the system itself is still faster. You also get into issues with coders compiling stuff for 32-bit and running the 32-bit on top of the 64-bit with an emulator between the two, which will slow down the perceived speed. Again, that's not the hardware being slower.

Tom 13

Re: A bit harsh

64-bit architecture is so 2007. This is 2013, closing in fast on 2014. If you're counting that as innovation, I think you need to revisit the dictionary. You should be able to find one online if you don't have a dead tree copy handy.

Dark matter: Good news, everyone! We've found ... NOTHING AT ALL

Tom 13

Re: thinking...

It is highly probable there are vast portions of the universe we don't see, although not because they are receding too fast for us to see them. That's sort of the whole point of Relativity: it doesn't matter how fast you are moving or what direction, the speed of light is constant for your medium.

While theoretically there could be a discontinuous transition point for gravity, without evidence for it is seems a highly risky speculation. The fundamental basis of science is that a process that happens anywhere in the universe can be replicated somewhere else. While I see the argument to avoid anthropomorphism, trying to use that to offset the more critical scientific criteria is philosophically problematic. Moreover, while it could be argued that such a transition was beyond the solar boundary, the problem is with the red shifts themselves. Is not just that everything is receding from us. It is that the further away from us the object is the faster it is moving away from us and that rate increases along a smooth curve, not a segmented function.

It is a fundamental unsolved problem of astronomy and cosmology, and has been since the red shift evidence was discovered. Given how badly it perplexed Einstein I doubt any of us Reg posters will find the answer.

Tom 13

Re: Flat Earth

No it's not! It's Turtles you heathen!

Tom 13

Re: Fox News/Daily Mail version headline

I applaud your attempt to reason with those who reject attempts at reasoning. But this can be more simply stated, and despite their scientific faults, the Greeks actual did so.

Science is physics. Religion is metaphysics. You can't use science to disprove metaphysics, which is what non-theists do.

Tom 13

Re: @AC

I resemble that remark!

But in fairness, I only did it once and only for the LOLs.

Tom 13

Re: "Incomplete theory"

An odd criticism. All true scientific theories are by definition incomplete. And only God could write a complete theory of any thing as a complete theory of a given thing requires complete knowledge of everything which could conceivably have an effect on it.

Granted, this is a philosophical argument not a scientific one. But I think it rather important as it gets at the heart of the scientific method and what science is.

Tom 13

Re: I think Einstein would suggest

Interesting that you should bring him up in this exact context. There is some degree to which this search for the missing mass is his grandchild. If he hadn't added a cosmological constant to maintain a steady state universe to his theory, I don't think we'd see quite as much concern in this area. Yes, he did eventually recognize the mistake and name it his greatest error. But it does illuminate how tenaciously one can hold onto prejudices in science.

At this point I'm willing to say the missing mass is the modern equivalent of the search for the ether was in his day. Yes, that does leave us with a deeper problem. But maybe to solve the deeper problem we have to accept that.

Need a job? The 'Internet of Things' WANTS YOU

Tom 13

Re: Already have IoT stuff and its not connected

You're quite right.

Even when I was employed by people who were trying to create a smart house I could never quite figure out why the TV needed to be able to talk to the gas oven or the refrigerator.

Bucket? Check. Toilet plunger? Check. El Reg's 50 years of Doctor Who

Tom 13

Re: No, it is a pun.

It could have been. But I believe you left out the tea.

Tom 13

Re: Only 11 actors?

Hartnell you can Treknology into the Gallifreyan framework. They never specified where the TARDIS came from in the show and it was rather apparent that it wasn't from the timeframe in which the show was set. So you can backfill the Toughton storyline back to Hartnell without breaking continuity. Not that they seemed all that concerned about continuity in the Hartnell years, but at least they never broke anything so badly you couldn't explain it. Which sort of will be a problem after the next doctor. Yes, yes. I know they'll JR Ewing away the problem somehow but it will still irk me.

Tom 13

Re: Sorry to have to say this...

That is truly, truly sad. Because as a 'Merkin I was willing to apologize for the way our writer/director team made such a hash of it by trying to Merklinize it.

When I watch Dr. Who I want a British Doctor. I could probably tolerate an Australian or Scottish one though Irish would be pushing it a bit (and my dad is Irish so I'm not slighting them and certainly like it when one of his companions is). But the whole charm of the show is precisely that it IS a British show.

IT'S patent WAR: Apple, Microsoft vs Google, Samsung, Huawei

Tom 13

Re: Sad, sad people

Not if the original patent holder sells it. I can see idea people making a living from patenting their ideas and then selling them to manufacturers. The problem is multi-fold as I listed above. One of the things we need for situations like this is a protocol where a company who buys patents at an auction like Nortel held negotiates deals with people whom they claim are infringing on their patents. Part of that would need to be spelling out in detail exactly what parts of which patents are being infringed. Another part would be a "reasonable man" standard for pricing on the patents. I'm thinking something a bit looser than FRAND if the patent isn't incorporated into a standard. And any patent which is incorporated into a standard with the participation of the patent holder must be covered by FRAND or the company forfeits their patent.

Tom 13

Re: There has got to be some law that if a patent isn't defended...

In the US there isn't. This is probably the simplest partial fix that could be applied to the system and I expect would get broad support form voters. It's getting a Congresscritter to propose and then get it passed that's the hard part.

Tom 13

Re: Details?

I'm guessing he's talking about the now irrelevant GIF spat, although I think there was a similar issue for some zip formats. They both followed similar lines: dissemination in a popular forum until it was a defacto standard at which point the patent holder asserted his IP rights.

I think we need limited duration IP monopolies to encourage innovation. But I have a huge problem with these sorts of trap door lawsuits. I think they're actually an even bigger problem than the patent trolls who buy the rights from the original holders. I think in order or most offensive problems I'd rank:

1) Trap lawsuits like the GIF/ZIP spat

2) Patent trolls

3) Unending extensions of IP rights

4) IP rights which are too broad and/or not properly researched for prior art/existing public domain.

And I'd rank item 4 as bad enough to break the system by its lonesome.

Tom 13


I was all set to give you a thumbs up. But you had to put the last paragraph in there and ruin it.

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